Beginning Jan. 9, the U.S. government will begin collecting DNA samples from citizens arrested in connection with federal crimes and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities. (Click here for a copy of the final rule published today in the Federal Register. And click here for an April story by The Washington Post when the rule was first proposed.)
Previously, the government restricted DNA collection to citizens convicted of federal crimes, though the federal rule follows in the footsteps of a group of states that have broadened their DNA collection to included arrestees who have not been convicted.
The collection activities are expected to add roughly 1.2 million samples to the FBI’s burgeoning database, which as of August held the DNA profiles of 6.2 million offenders. The rule allows authorities to collect DNA via a blood sample or to use a mouth swab to collect saliva.
The vast majority of new entries would likely represent immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Based on immigration statistics cited in the rule, 1,206,457 immigrants were apprehended in 2006, and that number has been growing annually. By contrast, about 140,000 citizens were arrested for federal offenses, according to 2004 federal justice statistics.
The rule excludes from DNA collection immigrants who are being processed for lawful entry in the United States, immigrants being held at port of entry while authorities consider their admissibility, and immigrants held in connection with maritime interdiction.
Currently, all 50 states allow for the collection of DNA samples from convicts, and 13 states have laws allowing authorities to cull DNA samples from some categories of arrestees.